‘Paris Can Wait’ (2016)
Anne (Diane Lane) is looking wistfully on the beautiful French seaside resort from her balcony as breakfast is laid out in front of her on a table. We can hear her husband, Michael (Alec Baldwin) talking business over the phone. Waiting for her husband, she pulls out a small camera and starts to take pictures of her breakfast. We see the pictures that she has taken, and they look like they belong in the pages of Bon Appétit magazine.
She gets up and puts the final piece of clothing into her bag. Michael tells her she is going to love their next destination, but he can’t go into any detail because he gets another call. The way the two react to each other, you know that this couple has been together for a while. Anne looks as she is used to the non-stop phone calls and being left to deal with the bags and the porters.
She meets her husband in the front of the hotel, and they get into a town car for the ride to the airport. Michael ignores his wife and talks shop with a man in the front seat, a colleague named Jacques (Arnaud Viard), discussing budgets and other movie-making items. Jacques has the car stopped, and he quickly gets out of the car, disappearing into a bank of shops. Anne and Michael have no idea what is going on until Jacques gets back in the car with bread and cheese, which all three begin partaking of. Anne complains that she has an earache. Jacques has the driver stop, and he gets out, returning with ear drops for Anne. They travel for a bit and then Jacques has the driver stop once more, this time at an outdoor market. Jacques leaves again, with Michael worrying about getting to his next destination. Jacques gets back into the car with the most amazing looking strawberries. Anne quickly takes one but Michael, acting perturbed, takes a bit of coaching before eating one.
They finally arrive at the airport, with a jet waiting in the hanger for them. Anne decides that she won’t be able to tolerate the air pressure with her ear ache and tells her husband that she isn’t going to their next destination but will take a train to Paris to wait for Michael there. Michael wants her to come with him, but he understands that flying might be painful for her.
Jaques tells both of them that he is driving to Paris and would be glad to take Anne there. After a bit of a protest, Anne agrees to go with Jacques, believing that they will be in Paris by nightfall. What she doesn’t know is Jaques plans to take the leisurely, scenic route to Paris, with plenty of food and drink stops. It’s a trip that could change Anne’s life forever.
Writer/director Eleanor Coppola (wife of legendary director Francis Coppola) has brought us a road picture that emphasizes food as the perfect travel companion, at least when you are driving through the French countryside. Jacques, who drives a beaten down Peugeot that needs water every few hours, smoke cigarettes like they are free, and has an eye for good food and even better wine, feels that life is to be savored and explored. Anne used to her American ways, and the lifestyle of a wealthy executive’s wife isn’t quite on board at first with Jacques leisurely travel plans. Jacques has made this trip many times because he seemingly knows every restaurant in France and every chef personally. Not only is he Anne’s personal Yelp, but he is also her travel guide, knowing everything about each historical building in every town. I wish those travel guides shows on PBS were as knowledgeable as Jacques.
While foodies and especially lovers of French food will enjoy the beautiful variety of food that is featured in this film (and beautifully shot by Anne), the film feels lacking in any substance. While watching this film, I kept thinking about The Trip, road-trip film that Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon go on, eating their way across northern England. What made that movie work was two incredibly complicated people who were discussing life while enjoying their food/trip. The emphasis was on the two men, but in this film, Coppola seems to concentrate on the food and the countryside, which means that the characters suffer, becoming very simple, one-dimensional people that aren’t extremely interesting. Diane Lane is wasted in the role of Anne. She is never allowed to do more than gush over the food and make sideways glances at Arnaud Viard’s Jacques. Anne is a passenger on this journey, and it’s very telling that she does nothing more than sitting on the passenger seat, letting Jacques decide everything for her. Viard doesn’t come off much better as his Jacques is all about the long game with Anne, knowing that his French wiles will wear down Anne by the end of the trip because that’s what French men do (at least according to Jacques).
Paris Can Wait is much like those fancy restaurants that serve very tiny portions. The meal looks beautiful but just never fills you up. My Rating: Bargain Matinee
My movie rating system from Best to Worst: 1). I Would Pay to See it Again 2). Full Price 3). Bargain Matinee 4). Cable 5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again
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